Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Ephesians 6:10
Today is a day that our country has designated for the commemoration of all of our nation’s veterans. Very few veterans of World War II remain in our congregations now. Yet it is good for Christian citizens, who live in both kingdoms, to thank God for those who have served our country during wartime and peace. It is also good for us to pray for the families of those who have served and who currently serve for the hardships that they also endure. All across the globe, members of the United States military have gone in defense of our freedoms. This is not something which we should take for granted.
On December 9, 1969, a UH-1H helicopter carrying six men crashed en route from Minh Long to Ba To. One of the six men aboard was Major Roger W. Heinz of Coventry, Connecticut. Major Heinz was an Army chaplain with a Special Forces unit and a pastor of The Lutheran–Church Missouri Synod. None of the men aboard would survive. Major Heinz was one of thirteen Army chaplains who were killed during the Vietnam War.
In 1986, Chaplain Heinz’s widow, Lois, spoke to the LCMS Youth Gathering in Washington D.C. She spoke about her grief and the challenge of raising two young daughters without their father. But Mrs. Heinz also spoke about the importance of her husband’s work, but also how faith in Christ sustained her. She said:
Many questions came to mind. Some of those questions were: “How will I ever make it without him? How will I raise two children by myself?" The most immediate question was: "How will I make it through the memorial service and the funeral?" That question was answered very quickly while I was attending the memorial service at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. I had chosen two of my husband's favorite hymns "For All the Saints" and "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." As the congregation started singing "For All The Saints," I suddenly found myself singing with them. Not only did I make it through the service, but I also participated in the service. My husband was buried in Arlington National Cemetery on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1969. I am convinced that without faith I could never have made it through that time in my life. The Lord was with me. He guided me and gave me the strength to carry on. He put my life back in order.
It is good for us to give thanks to God for those who serve in the Armed Forces of our nation. Please join me also in praying that the Holy Spirit would work through Christians both within and outside of the service branches to bring the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who serve. We also give thanks to God for the service and sacrifice of our military chaplains for answering the call to serve, men like Chaplain Heinz, who truly serve on the front lines armed only with the Sword of the Spirit. Finally, please pray for Faith Lutheran Churches in Knob Noster and St. Robert that serve those who are stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base and Fort Leonard Wood and care for so many service personnel here in Missouri and even scattered around the world. Thanks be to God for God’s work through our nation’s military and we ask that those who serve would be protected from all harm and danger, but also be fitted with the full armor of God that comes through faith in Christ.
Prayer - Lord God of hosts, stretch for Your almighty arm to strengthen and protect those who serve in the armed forces of our country. Support them in times of war and in times of peace keep them from all evil, giving them courage and loyalty. Grant that in all things they may serve with integrity and with honor; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan